|Abstract or Summary
- Baccalaureate attainment represents an important goal among educators and policymakers. The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education has stated that affordability and transfer are critical to increasing baccalaureate attainment, and that community colleges have a critical role in this transfer process. On the other hand, some researchers disagree as to whether attendance at community colleges benefits or hinders students in their pursuit of a baccalaureate degree. Whether one agrees or disagrees a program called the Degree Partnership Program (DPP), which was previously known as the Dual Enrollment Program (DEP), has been touted as a model program which allows more students to achieve their goal of baccalaureate attainment through concurrent enrollment in a two-year community college and a four-year university dual partnership program. It has been reported that students who have participated in the DPP experienced advantages over those who did not participate (Balzer, 2006). Three benefits were specifically identified as (a) increased rate of baccalaureate attainment, (b) higher GPA's, and (c) fewer university credits, all of which led to substantial cost savings (Two States, 2006).
A quantitative descriptive case study has been conducted to analyze the baccalaureate recipients from a regionally accredited land-grant university, in conjunction with its partnership with a local community college, to determine if these claims are true. Three null hypotheses were tested:
1. Null hypothesis. There are no statistically significant differences between the baccalaureate completion rates for DPP and non-DPP students.
2. Null hypothesis. There are no statistically significant differences between the DPP and non-DPP baccalaureate recipients in regards to GPA, and number of credits to completion.
3. Null hypothesis. There are no statistically significant differences in underserved populations who chose to participate in the DPP versus those underserved populations who have not participated in the DPP.
DPP participants and non-DPP participants have been tracked and compared from entering as a cohort of freshman in 2005 and in terms of graduation within the 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13 school years. Results indicated that these claims held true, with DPP students showing significantly higher graduation rates, significantly higher GPAs, and significantly lower numbers of university credits as compared with non-DPP students. Therefore, the DPP should indeed be considered a model program with tremendous potential to affect higher education and this nation's policy.